Philosophy

Who Gets To Decide the Truth?

We all get a say—not just priests, princes, or partisans.

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Until the 1600s, the average annual rate of economic growth in human history was approximately zero, on a per capita basis. Economies developed haltingly and, by today's standards, minimally. Politics consisted of a long and bitter series of wars, revolutions, and coups, punctuating variously short or long periods of oppressive and corrupt rule. Regimes came and went, and borders were redrawn, and politics staggered from one empire, invader, or upheaval to the next. Doctors and scholars knew barely more than the ancients had known—in some respects, less. The word scientist did not exist; neither did the concept of science as we know it today.

Knowledge existed, of course, and impressive kingdoms appeared, and new technologies emerged. But an objective observer would probably not have said that the Europe of the late medieval period was better organized or more advanced than the Europe of the Roman Empire at its height. In the year 1500, alien visitors might reasonably have pegged Homo sapiens as a stuck species. "Come back in another 100,000 years," they might have concluded, "and maybe these goofballs will be interesting."

And then it all changed.

Three Liberal Orders

There were breakthroughs and advances before the Industrial Revolution, the American Revolution, and the scientific revolution. What was lacking was a social order capable of generating and then cumulating advances systematically. Systematic social orders require constitutions: systems of rules that channel human energies in pro-social directions.

All three of the great liberal social systems—economic, political, epistemic—are traceable to breakthroughs in the 17th and 18th centuries. All were pioneered by men who followed each other's writings and doings and who sometimes knew each other personally. They and their works were flawed with the inequities and blind spots of their eras (one of which is reflected in the fact that all of them were men). But the founders were not just blundering along; they self-consciously sought to create an alternative to the failed regimes of the past. The greatest of them were men of genius, whose acuity and sophistication remain astonishing even today.

The economic system has no formal constitution. It does have something like a founding document, in the form of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, plus Smith's equally important and closely connected treatise on moral development and social behavior, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith elaborated a sophisticated theory of where human cooperation comes from, how to encourage and exploit it, how to wire it into societies' rules and institutions. He argued that Thomas Hobbes was wrong to believe that the natural human condition is a war of all against all: Human beings are oriented toward cooperation as well as conflict.

People, Smith argued, come into the world equipped with what he called sympathy, or fellow-feeling; empathy is the word we might use today. We have a natural inclination to imagine how others see and feel, and to align our own perspectives and dispositions with theirs. Also, people come equipped with a desire to be trusted and respected by others. Through our desire for mutual esteem based on our empathetic intuitions, we can align our interests and form social bonds on a basis other than force or domination. True, human beings are also greedy and ambitious. Yet—here is Smith's most famous insight—a well-structured social order can harness those very traits to promote activity which benefits ourselves by benefiting others. If we get the rules right, millions of people of every imaginable skill and temperament and nationality can cooperate to build a fantastically complex device like a Prius or iPhone, all without the oversight or instruction of any central planner. If we get the rules right.

Smith's proposition seemed ridiculous, given that human history through his time was soaked in blood and oppression. His claim was redeemed only by the fact that it proved to be true. Although Smith did not invent markets, he notated the code which enabled a tribal primate, wired for personal relationships in small, usually related groups, to cooperate impersonally across unbounded networks of strangers, and to do so without any central authority organizing markets and issuing commands. Economic liberalism—market cooperation—is a species-transforming piece of social software, one which enables us to function far above our designed capacity.

Political liberalism grapples with another version of the cooperation problem: Can we make rules that channel self-interest, ambition, and bias to benefit society as a whole? Can we provide social stability without squelching social dynamism, and without submitting to a Hobbesian authority? Yet another version of the cooperation problem preoccupies epistemic liberalism: Can people with sharp differences of opinion be induced to cooperate in building knowledge, again providing both stability and dynamism without recourse to authoritarianism?

Solving those problems requires a constitution, in a broad sense of the word: not necessarily a piece of paper or a formal law, but a social operating system that seeks to elicit cooperation and resolve differences on the basis of rules, not personal authority or tribal affiliation or brute force. In that sense, the liberal economic, epistemic, and political systems all have constitutions, even if only the political constitution is written down. (Even then, the written U.S. Constitution is only words on paper. The real Constitution is a dense system of explicit and implicit social rules, many of which are not written down.)

All three liberal constitutions organize far-flung cooperation, distribute decision making across social networks, and exploit network intelligence (where the system knows much more than its constitutive individuals), all with a minimum of centralized authority or control. They all emphasize impersonal rules over personal authority, open-ended processes over fixed outcomes, and consent over coercion. They all take as their starting point that individuals are by nature free and equal, and that freedom and equality are important and valuable. They are all extraordinarily successful, especially compared with the alternatives.

Which is not to say they are perfect. Far from it. But they are much better than their competitors at adapting to change and at identifying mistakes and self-correcting. And they are much better at averting the destructive social conflict Hobbes believed was the only alternative to authoritarian government.

For exactly that reason, all three liberal social systems can seem disquieting and unnatural. They allow for no ending points, no final arrival, no absolute certainty, no shelter from change. They place strains on local relationships and tribal ties. They can be harsh and unfair. They are difficult to understand and explain; indeed, they are deeply counterintuitive. They all depend on complex, intricately balanced rules, norms, institutions, and moral values, most of which did not arise organically but took centuries to construct. Acculturating people to all those rules and norms and institutions and moral values requires years of socialization and deep reservoirs of civic mutuality and trust. As a wag said: Where establishing the rule of law is concerned, the first five centuries are the hardest.

The story of the founding of the American political order needs no retelling here. We all know its characters, documents, and dates. By contrast, the epistemic revolution had no constitutional convention, no founding document, no date we commemorate. It emerged gradually, bit by bit. But there were founders, and foundations.

Locke's Political Revolution

The wars of religion wracked Europe not just for years but for generations. They spanned the whole continent, plus England. They brought a mass uprising in central Europe, a revolution in England, civil wars in France, and clashes of what were then the world's mightiest armies. European wars mowed down not only combatants but large numbers of civilians. "These more-than-religious wars were destructive, expensive, and inconclusive," the historian Brad S. Gregory writes. "By the middle of the seventeenth century they had drained and exhausted Europeans." The wars left traumas and scars whose effects linger to this day.

Many wars are long and scarring, but the religious wars were supposed to be about something. The contests between Catholics and Protestants, and also among Protestants (whose internecine disagreements rivaled their disagreements with Catholics), were about power and political advantage, as all wars are. But they also were about theology, priestly authority, biblical interpretation, ritual.

Notice, in that context, the last word of Gregory's formulation: "These more-than-religious wars were destructive, expensive, and inconclusive." Politically, the wars ended in the mid-1600s with the Peace of Westphalia, which amounted to a nonaggression pact in which sovereigns agreed not to interfere in each other's internal affairs and to tolerate minority religions. Epistemically, the outcome was similarly stalemated. "By the 1650s, theological experts [had] come no closer to reconciling their disagreements than they were in the 1520s," Gregory writes. "Conflicting claims about Christian truth were no more settled by 1648 than they had been in the 1520s."

Also unanswered was an even more important question: Who should settle disagreements—religious, political, epistemic? Does authority over truth reside with the Catholic Church, with the Protestant laity, with heads of state, or elsewhere? In religious controversies, who is the boss? That was the question that triggered and defined the wars. Yet violence had failed to resolve it. The conflicts had proved the costly futility of relying on contending authorities and force of arms to resolve differences of opinion. "Weary Europeans started looking for alternatives," Gregory writes.

Among those seeking alternatives was an English thinker named John Locke. Trained in medicine, he dabbled in politics and, for his trouble, found himself exiled to the Netherlands for five years, where he was steeped in the ideas of freethinkers like Baruch Spinoza and Pierre Bayle. Many thinkers and practitioners contributed to building modern liberalism, but if the source code were to be traced to just one man, he would have to be Locke. He stands unique among all the great thinkers in one respect: He was the germinal figure in the development of two branches of liberalism, political and epistemic.

In his politics, Locke was not a modern democrat. (In his day, no one was.) He accepted the authority of the British crown, and his advocacy of toleration drew the line at Catholicism and atheism. But he formulated three ideas that are foundational to political liberalism.

The first is the idea of natural rights: fundamental rules that apply to all persons from birth to death—rules that all other persons and also sovereigns and governments are bound to respect, and which are to be respected impersonally and reciprocally. Because they are natural, these rights inhere in human nature and are present in the state of nature. They provide a built-in limiting principle to the war of all against all. For Locke, the fundamental rights are life, liberty, and property (meaning not just material property but authority over one's own body and conscience). Because rights are inborn rather than earned by merit or conferred by social position, they inhere equally. Individuals are always equal in their fundamental rights, even as they differ in countless other ways.

A second foundational principle is rule by consent. Governments are not instituted by divine authority to rule the people; they are instituted by the people to enforce natural rights. If governments exceed their authority or use it to violate the people's rights, Locke argued, they lose their claim to govern and may rightly be replaced. Government is sovereign within its grant of power, but the ultimate sovereignty belongs to the governed.

Third, toleration. Religious differences had torn Europe apart, in good measure because the combatants assumed that if one religion is true, then others must be false. Because false religions endanger souls and deceive societies, they seemed intolerable. Religious war had shown how costly intolerance could be in practice, but even so, few thinkers questioned the principle that false belief was dangerous and should be stamped out. Hobbes, for example, believed that the state's stability depended on uniformity of religious belief, or at least uniformity of religious expression. Locke, by contrast, argued that force cannot save souls because it cannot change hearts—and even if it could, governments cannot be relied upon to discern religious truth. In any case, the person who worships wrongly does not injure others, and the state's business is not to save souls but to protect rights.

All of those ideas had precedents and echoes in other thinkers. Hobbes affirmed inalienable rights; the Levelers (an English reform movement of the 1640s) had called for popular sovereignty; John Milton and Roger Williams had argued for toleration. In Locke, however, we find pretty much the entire code, embedded for the first time in a worked-out theory. Natural rights, popular sovereignty, and toleration together make up something larger than the sum of the parts. Impersonal rules, neutrally applied; limited government, accountable to the people; pluralism of belief, and government that protects rather than persecutes dissent. The elements of modern liberalism are all there, although elaborating and applying them would be the work of centuries.

If Locke had ended his inquiries there, he would have earned his place as a giant. But he was not finished.

Locke's Epistemic Revolution

Michel de Montaigne was a politician and lawyer who had become exhausted by the conflicts of politics and sophistries of law. In the late 1500s, he shut himself in the tower of his family château, where he wrote essays that poked and prodded at received wisdom of all sorts, including the proposition that human beings could ever reliably know anything.

The wars of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation made Montaigne profoundly pessimistic that any truth could be confidently asserted or any disagreement effectively resolved. In the longest and most influential of his essays, Apology for Raymond Sebond, he wrote that our judgment often leads us astray: "The slightest things in the world whirl it around." Our senses, he continued, convey only impressions of things, variably and unreliably; for all we know, we might be dreaming or hallucinating. "The uncertainty of our senses," he wrote, "makes everything they produce uncertain."

We may feel certain of truth, but such certainty is no guide. From his own experience of error, Montaigne knew that his own convictions were untrustworthy; by extension, the same must be true for everyone else's. Nor could we rely on reason—it is the servant of what today we call confirmation bias, an idea Montaigne impressively anticipated: "Everyone competes in plastering up and confirming this accepted belief, with all the power of their reason, which is a supple tool, pliable, and adaptable to any form." The world, he concluded, "is filled and soaked with twaddle and lies."

Montaigne also believed that we are doomed to eternal conflict over our beliefs: Because no two individuals see, hear, or believe the same thing, "we get into disputes at every turn." No wonder that "men are in agreement about nothing, I mean even the most gifted and ablest scholars, not even that the sky is over our head." The very fact that so many people disagree about so many things implies that all claims to knowledge are unfounded, for amid the cacophony, why should we assume that anyone is ever right about anything? "By this variety and instability of opinions," disputants "lead us as by the hand, tacitly, to this conclusion of their inconclusiveness."

Perhaps uncertainty and disputatiousness might be resolved by some all-knowing authority. But, demanded Montaigne, "Who shall be fit to judge these differences?" When the authorities themselves disagree, who will decide their disputes? Besides, no one is immune to error and misperception, and no one is dispassionate. "We would need someone exempt from all these qualities [of bias and passion], so that with an unprejudiced judgment he might judge of these propositions as of things indifferent to him; and by that score we would need a judge that never was."

Montaigne's demolition of knowledge appears, at first blush, to reflect almost nihilistic despair. Yet there are seeds here of something more. Notice, in his discussion, the emphasis on disagreement. The problem of truth, Montaigne hinted, is a social problem: a problem about reaching, or failing to reach, a working consensus. The knowledge problem centers not on what you know or what I know, but on what we know.

Two generations after Montaigne and two before Locke, the English philosopher Francis Bacon adopted some of Montaigne's skepticism but steered it in a different direction. Knowledge, he wrote in Novum Organum (1620), comes not from what truth seekers believe but what they do: make observations and perform experiments that eliminate wrong answers and point us toward right ones. Using this method, Bacon claimed, we can overcome the inherent flaws of our senses and cognition (what Bacon called "Idols of the Tribe"), the limits of our individual experiences and parochial viewpoints ("Idols of the Cave"), and the errors of received dogmas and superstitions ("Idols of the Theater").

"Bacon was a bad scientist," the sociologist of science Joseph Ben-David has argued, "and in many details he was not a very good philosopher either. There was little connection between the rise of new astronomy and mathematical physics and Baconian principles; experimentation without theory and collection of empirical knowledge had produced few scientific results." Bacon's importance lay in his method's implicit social promise. In an age of seemingly endless, fruitless creed wars, his experimental method suggested a conciliatory path: things people could do to reconcile their disagreements, taking their conflicts off the street and into the lab. "By sticking to empirically verified facts (preferably by controlled experiment)," Ben-David wrote, "the method enabled its practitioners to feel like members of the same 'community,' even in the absence of a commonly accepted theory. It was possible for scientists to go ahead with several competing views of the common subject matter and have the feeling of shared progress and eventual consensus. They no longer had to split into factions opposing each other on an increasingly wide and diffuse front, as the case had been before in philosophical conflicts."

Montaigne, Bacon, and the religious wars all were in the background when Locke published his Essay Concerning Human Understanding in 1689. Knowledge, he argued, is not innate; it is not something we are born with. Nor does it come from revelation, at least not when revelation is inconsistent with experience or existing knowledge. Nor can it come merely from general theories. Knowledge comes from experience and particulars (what today we might call facts and data), which we can find only by looking outside ourselves—by investigating the world and comparing notes with each other.

If our claims or hypotheses cannot be reduced to particulars and then checked against the experience and reason of ourselves and others, they are outside the boundaries of what today we call "science." Broad generalizations and abstract axioms, Locke said, are useful "in disputes, to stop the mouths of wranglers"—in other words, they make good debaters' points—"but [are] not of much use to the discovery of unknown truths, or to help the mind forwards in its search after knowledge."

Without checking our beliefs, we can have knowledge of our own existence and God's, Locke thought, but not much more. Moreover, without empiricism, we merely enshrine our mistakes. "All men are liable to error, and most men are in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it," he wrote. "Good men are men still liable to mistakes and are sometimes warmly engaged in errors, which they take for divine truths, shining in their minds with the clearest light."

What Locke was doing here was expelling from intellectual respectability—from the epistemic rulebook—claims which, because they are not checkable, are not adjudicable. Those claims, not incidentally, would include most of the theological and metaphysical disputes over which the wars of religion were ostensibly fought. Locke saw how untestable certitudes sparked irreconcilable social disputes. "The strength of our persuasions is no evidence at all of their own rectitude," he wrote, "and men may be as positive and peremptory in error as in truth."

When describing disputes that cannot be addressed empirically, Locke used the revealing word dangerous, at least when the disputes rise to the level of moral conflict: "Nothing can be so dangerous as principles thus taken up without questioning or examination; especially if they be such as concern morality, which influence men's lives, and give a bias to all their actions."

Locke's empiricism, then, is a social principle, and he understood it as such. It aims not just at knowledge but also at peace. Combined with his principle of toleration, it would have required the religious disputants of his day to seek paths toward resolving or dissolving their disputes; or else to change the subject and talk about something else—something they could resolve by finding facts and comparing experiences, rather than by coming to blows over divine revelation.

Notice how Locke's empiricism dovetails with the political principles of natural rights and basic equality. Because all people have eyes and ears and minds, and because we must check and consult with each other to find truth, the many, not just the few, are entitled to assert their own beliefs and contest others'. Epistemic rights, like political rights, belong to all of us; empiricism is the duty of all of us. No exceptions for priests, princes, or partisans.

NEXT: The FBI Destroyed This Man's Life With Bogus Spying Accusations

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  1. Truth is discerned with logic and science to the best of human ability. That has to be good enough.

    When we make the effort to describe a question unambiguously, the truth we honestly share becomes immediately apparent.

    If we agree to value and accept truth, there can be no conflict.

    That’s how. Who is anyone willing and capable.

    1. “If we agree to value and accept truth, there can be no conflict.”

      Until we realize we can not agree on what the truth is.

      Logic and science are not panaceas against disagreements over what is or is not true.

      1. Logic and science are how rational people discern reality, truth.

        To disagree with this is to lie.

        Why not prove me wrong by arguing your point without using logic or science.

        1. Several thousand years of religious wars have already done that.

          If you truly believed that ‘truth’ exists and in the use of logic you would have already accepted that humans are not logical people and ‘truth’ is irrelevant to them.

          1. What makes you believe that to be true?

            1. Observation?

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          2. There were not several thousand years of religious wars. People here discussing Truth while engaging in the opposite

        2. “Logic and science are how rational people discern reality, truth.”

          That doesn’t mean that everyone magically agrees with either your logic or your science.

          All you are doing is moving the point of disagrement.

          If you imagine that there is only on way to construct a valid logical argument for a given situation or you believe in “settled” science that is indisputable, then you are delusional.

          1. There’s nothing magical about logic or science.

            Properly applied, they demonstrate reality, the acceptance of which is the prerequisite for rationality. This is the basis of science and philosophy.

            That you find yourself excluded from rational discourse, doesn’t surprise me.

            1. Thinking they end all arguments is magical thinking.

              The conclusion of a properly applied valid logical argument is only true if all the premises are true.

              If people don’t accept your premises your logical argument is meaningless.

              And a big part of the philosophy of science is that nothing is ever truly settled. Every thing is disputable given better data, better experiments.

              You are the one not engaging in rational discourse if you think you can end all disagreements by waving logic and science around like magic wands.

              1. Science and logic represent the best tools humanity has to describe its perception of reality.

                Hey bub, that’s the best you’ll ever do.

                If we bother to describe an issue with an unambiguous question that settles the confusion you have with “premises”.

                Just because humans can’t perceive all reality today is no reason to disregard the reality, truth we do perceive. That would be irrational.

                There’s nothing magical about it.

              2. Do you even realize the irony that you’re trying to construct a logical argument to demonstrate that logic doesn’t discern truthful conclusions?

                If you applied logic correctly you would prove yourself wrong.

                1. Bruh, do you not see the irony in your belief in logic and science clouding your understanding of the very truth you proclaim to hold?

                  Invite evidence, eschew belief – even when that belief is in evidentiary axiom itself.

                  1. What makes you believe that to be true?

        3. You are one of the biggest liars here.

          And before you launch into your Colon B pseudoscience, you still have never addressed the mobile Nazi death squads that shot over a million Jews with bullets in Ukraine. I have posted pictures of them, of them forcing the Jews to dig their own mass graves, and of the mass graves unearthed by the red army.

          Please don’t ever lecture us again

          1. Neither you nor anyone else here has ever refuted the evidence I’ve presented. You’ve obviously seen it and from you just crickets.

            Pictures of bodies in wartime are a dime a dozen. Forensic evidence doesn’t exist.

            Share your evidence and I will refute it.

            I refute that which I do deny. You never have.

            1. What an idiot. You really gave the game away too easy. Some seeker of Truth, some man of Science- “show me any evidence at all, and I will refute it.”

              It’s been shown multiple times, you didn’t, and couldn’t. Now back to Stormfront and stay there.

              1. Cite required.

                1. Yeah………. Im sure my European Jewish relatives weren’t exterminated by your nazi friends. They’ve just been in hiding for the last 80 years. Along with millions of others.

                  1. You can believe the hoax without a shred of physical evidence to support it.

                    You can perform the feeble mental gymnastics required to ignore the evidence that refutes it. Evidence censored under punishment of imprisonment in every nation where it allegedly occurred.

                    You just can’t claim that you also value truth.

        4. At best, all we can do is characterize and describe facts about our existence, and differentiate them from ideals and superstitions. We call that knowledge and we have used it quite effectively. Everything else, including any version of higher ‘Truth’, and other ideals like “Justice” and “Peace” and even morality itself are platonic projections from out of our sapience, but not outcomes we alone or in society can concretely and universally render. This is because a peaceful society is nothing but a collection of disciplined individual behaviors and collaborations, much like science itself being a behavioral discipline as opposed to some quantifiable, concrete outcome itself. We will have more peace if more people use the discipline and responsibility defended by our Constitution, and we will have less the more that discipline is eschewed by a growing number of irresponsible individuals. The worst case is whatever fraudulent articulation of morality that is arrogated by authoritarian government to compensate for the failings that originate from individual behaviors in the first place. This is what we are encountering today in the USA, and it is demoralizing to every citizen regardless of any meaningless, pseudo-scientific classifications levied upon groups of US Citizens.

          1. All truth is fact and reality.

            The only thing that separates divine truth from practical truth is the human ability to perceive it with the logic and science we have.

            Look through my posts, I’m talking about practical truth and how to perceive it. There’s nothing magical about what I’m saying.

            Nobody knows what they can’t perceive.

            I don’t know why you choose to dwell on divine truth, when discerning sharing and accepting practical truth, the facts and reality we can perceive, offers the solution to all human conflict.

            Maybe you’re lured by lucrative conflict.

            1. Obtuse much?

            2. You and your absolute, fundamental, infallible “truth” again.

              Yes, there are facts; observable, verifiable, objective; incorporate those into your thesis and antithesis and you should arrive at a conclusion.

              Maybe the difference is semantic in nature; but I will tell you that you can take any number of logical conclusions and arrive at very different versions of what they mean; and for you that meaning is “truth.”

              And such notions of truth as absolute are very one dimensional; and are generally employed to convince or sell.

              1. “I will tell you that you can take any number of logical conclusions and arrive at very different versions of what they mean; “

                Cite even one of your examples and we’ll see if your belief is logical

    2. Drag Queen Story Hour – what’s the ‘truth’ so we can eliminate conflict over this subject?

      You keep pushing this ‘truth’ thing and you ignore that most conflict is not about differing versions of truth but over things that have no truth. They are just conflicts over differing arbitrary moral choices.

      1. Part of that conflict arises because the parties involved see the debate as concerning truth, as if their personal morality ought to be everybody’s morality, as if it were an objective truth. The Drag Queen Story Hour is an excellent example: the puritans said the truth was that queers are immoral and made the law enforce it; the gays won the legal battle, but then went on to swing the morality pendulum almost to the point where not being gay is immoral, and want the law to enforce it.

        Same thing with lots. Slavery was mandated, then Jim Crow was mandated, using the law to enforce their morality on everybody; but instead of simply getting the law out of the bigotry business, along came affirmative action, to the point where everyone has to be racist (not the same thing as bigoted, mind you) to comply with the law.

        1. Reality is everyone’s reality, is it not?

          Truth is reality.

          Regarding homosexuality, it is either a disorder or a choice that precludes mating and parenting in a unique nuclear family.

          In either case, it is less than equal to responsible heterosexuality resulting in a nuclear family.

          1. Rob stfu. Homosexuality is seen throughout nature. Who are you to say evolution is doing something wrong?

            1. Wrong, theft, disease and murder exists in nature.

              Are you suggesting that there is no difference between right and wrong? That we should act like animals?

              I prefer civilization with the unnatural benefits of inalienable rights that clearly define right from wrong.

          2. No wonder you sound like a fundamentalist.

            Do you believe in literal creation [i.e., the world is about 6,000 years old] as well?

            1. We can all see that you haven’t even tried to refute my argument.

        2. You don’t understand, Misek says there’s an objective morality – ‘truth’. And if we just know the ‘truth’ we’ll know how to act in all situations.

          So I want to know the ‘truth’ about drag queen story hour so I can know if I should be supporting it or not.

          1. You’re asking a guy whose main shtick is pretending there’s no evidence the holocaust happened, then going “lalala can’t hear you!” whenever people post links to evidence, about his understanding of “truth” as if it could have any bearing on the topic?

            1. The fact remains that while none of you has refuted my evidence, I have always refuted any/all of yours.

              I can cite where none of you has refuted my evidence, but I’ll bet that you can’t cite any article where I didn’t refute yours.

              Here’s my cite. Where’s yours? What’s the matter, can’t back up your bullshit?.

              https://reason.com/2021/06/03/why-did-it-take-stanford-so-long-to-recognize-this-satirical-flyer-as-protected-speech/#comments

              1. The Holocaust is well documented. You’re just engaging in sea lioning. Maybe next you will insist on endless proof, to your personal satisfaction, that the American revolution actually happened too.

                I’m the end you’re just a Nazi propagandist who wants another crack at killing the Jews.

                1. He’s just another human with an opinion who wants to be right, aka another talking ape with a lot of nothing to say.

                2. Pretty sure he’s just a echospinner sock

                3. The holohoax like all lies and conspiracies only exists in an environment of censorship.

                  Sharing the irrefutable evidence that exposes the hoax is a crime in every nation where it allegedly occurred. That’s the ONLY reason it exists today.

                  There is zero physical evidence of a holocaust. Only paid and coerced testimony. While the evidence of science and logic that soundly refutes it is suppressed.

                  I’m only too happy to share some of that evidence here so all can recognize the science and logic that refutes the holohoax.

                  The fact is that nobody here has Ever refuted that evidence.

                  1. Good Lord, do you also ascribe to flat earth?

                    I have wasted my time in any effort to dialogue with you; back to your fringe web sites and late night radio!

                    [MUTE]

                    1. I have presented logical and scientific evidence to refute what I deny.

                      You’re just another fool who can’t refute what you deny.

                      You say ignorance is bliss. That’s why you choose the bigotry button so you don’t even have to recognize that you are unwilling to consider arguments counter to your delusions.

      2. Again, what makes you believe that to be true, why do you blather here if truth doesn’t matter?

        Simply denying that truth exists, for you, only speaks volumes about your self fulfilling irrationality.

        If that is the case, you have nothing to add to a conversation about truth, fuck off.

        1. But we’re not talking about homosexuality here.

          We’re talking about cross-dressers pretending to be women reading and romping with children.

          Some are for it, some agin’ it.

          So, what is the ‘truth’?

          1. If you want to know the truth, identity the unambiguous question that represents the issue.

            If you won’t at least do that, you don’t really care about the truth.

            If you can’t do that, you’re too stupid to discern or even recognize the truth.

            Then you come here and say, “truth doesn’t exist”.

    3. In the case of science, it should be scientists to guide us, not politicians or religious figures. Climate Change is one good example, as is the pandemic.

      1. In matters of science when the scientists adhere strictly to the scientific method and ethics.

        Politicians are obsolete. We don’t need them to “politic with us”, our voices can be heard, shared and measured on the internet.

      2. Except its never just about ‘science’.

        Its about ‘science’ and its about human nature and its about economics.

        And consider this, Batman. If *you* don’t know ‘the science’ then how do you know the scientists know ‘the science’? How, not being experts ourselves, do we know which people are experts?

        1. See: always sunny, the episode where they hold a mock trial during the course of which Mac proves several scientists “a bitch”

    4. Science doesn’t discover truth. It discovers falsehoods, and limits the possible truth thereby, but can never positively identify it.

      1. Using the scientific method, starting with a hypothesis of truth and eliminating all the falsehoods we can perceive science proves truth in the only way humans are capable of perceiving it.

        Nobody knows what we can’t perceive.

  2. They and their works were flawed with the inequities and blind spots of their eras (one of which is reflected in the fact that all of them were men)

    From the results, it would appear that men didn’t too badly without involving women. In contrast, one could argue that the suffragettes and those that empowered them are the source of The United States decline into socialism and decay.

    In an otherwise reasoned article, the author adds an unsupported comment that somehow women would have made the emergent philosophies better.

    If women were really equal, they wouldn’t need men with guns and badges forcing others to operate as if it were true.

    1. 1. You read too much into his comment.

      2. If men were really equal, they wouldn’t need guns and badges to force women to be treated as inferior.

      1. 2. They most certainly don’t, though inferior men also benefit from their protection.
        2a. In a world where strength is useless and aggression is almost universally frowned upon, it gives a small group of aggressive idiots some value to society. Protecting wimps and women from men just like themselves.

      2. #2 is nothing but a [WE] mob gang trying to *steal* respect WITHOUT *earning* it. “Oh, poor me, gets treated like a can-opener just because I have strength as a man”, “Oh, poor me, just out of prison for being criminal can’t get a bank account”, “Oh, poor me, gets told constantly not to rough with the baby”…

        Not because I am any of those things — It’s all just because I’m a man so I’ll run around like a “gangster” pointing Gov-Guns at people making them give me respect I didn’t deserve.

        1. Feminism defined —
          It’s, “Not because I am any of those things — It’s ALL just because I’m a woman!” — and that’s how that story goes.

    2. Guns make women equal. Which is why they should support the Second Amendment.

      1. If only it had been Samuelita Colt who had invented the revolver.

        1. Samantha?

    3. If women had power instead of men, we wouldn’t have any of the never-ending problems of society caused by testosterone.

      1. And we’d all be living in grass huts.

        1. And men would forever be rearranging the two pieces of furniture in said grass huts.

      2. Hahahahahahahahaha

      3. Sure, Tony. Because women are never aggressive or spiteful or passive aggressive. Take Nancy Pelosi for example…

        1. He should also read up on the wives of Roman emperors.

        2. They don’t have the problems associated with testosterone, though, meaning the irrational desire to harm other people.

          1. Low t tony doesn’t suffer from the supposed or actual effects of testosterone.

          2. Yes, Tony. Women have their own hormonal cocktail which causes a broad stroke of other, sometimes not so nice, behaviour

          3. I can tell you are an incel

          4. More proof that you’ve never had any serious interactions with women.

      4. Testosterone does cause aggression, and aggression can cause a lot of problems. Will point out that women have some testosterone, too, in addition to estrogen.

        1. It also gets men out of the comfort of their homes during emergencies to go into burning buildings, freezing waters and other dangerous conditions risking their lives to help others.

          1. White Mike can’t relate

          2. Surely an oversupply for the modern environment.

      5. Men and women are equal.

        Except women are better than men.

        This isn’t hard, people.

      6. No, we would have all the never ending problems caused by estrogen instead.

  3. “Doctors and scholars knew barely more than the ancients had known—in some respects, less. The word scientist did not exist; neither did the concept of science as we know it today.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria

    1. “Politics consisted of a long and bitter series of wars, revolutions, and coups, punctuating variously short or long periods of oppressive and corrupt rule.”

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pax_Romana

      1. Sounds like last year.

        1. Hopefully Biden ends this peace with a new war in Syria.

    2. Reason posting another progressive douche who isn’t half as intelligent as he thinks he is?
      Totes surprised!

    1. I imagine there is a meaningful comment in there, but since you choose to be cryptic and rely on people reading articles and ferreting out whatever is in your head, alas, any meaningful contribution is lost.

      1. Actually I just expected people to remember about well known historical events. Citing Wikipedia is not great research, but the titles are usually accurate.
        That comment was intended to be under the other posts that have to be separate due to moderation choices on this site concerning links. Sometimes you beat the squirrels, sometimes they beat you.

      2. You don’t have to know much about history to read the links and know that he’s arguing that there are exceptions to Rausch’s generalities. Which is generally always the case. But I’m not sure how these are arguments against the thesis that ” an objective observer would probably not have said that the Europe of the late medieval period was better organized or more advanced than the Europe of the Roman Empire at its height” since the Pax Romana was exactly what it sounds like, the Library at Alexandria fell into terminal decline during the height of the Roman Empire, and the Iroquois Confederation was neither European nor Medieval.

    2. The Iroquois had a Confederacy? Does that mean they will be canceled?

      1. They might get siouxed for reparations.

        1. That’s an erie thought.

        2. I’d have some reservations about making puns like that. Wouldn’t want to send any social justice warriors on the warpath.

      2. They also had slavery.

        1. Slavery only ever existed anywhere
          but the USA. /sarc

  4. Wish Reason carried more by Rauch. My favorite pieces have been by him and they are the most memorable to me.

    1. I imagine there is a meaningful comment in there, but since you choose to be cryptic and rely on people reading articles and ferreting out whatever is in your head, alas, any meaningful contribution is lost.

      1. Crap, that was meant to be a reply to Longtobefree.

        1. The hilarity of it is that you have to read Rauch long piece to understand your comment so your criticism above applies to your own comment as well.

        2. No, it works perfectly there.

  5. Ugh, an essay on freedom. That’s not good for business. We thought that the Foundation had put a kibosh on that kind of racist nonsense.
    Like the New York Times said last week, it’s antigovernment.

    1. Way to leave out sarcamic!

      1. sarcasmic just wants to hang out with the gang. Get plastered, go fishing, talk guns and bitch about his ex. He doesn’t really understand what Jeff and Mike actually advocate. He just wants to be accepted and doesn’t care if they’re Goebbels and Pol Pot.

        1. More Pol smoking than Pot smoking.

  6. “If we get the rules right, millions of people of every imaginable skill and temperament and nationality can cooperate to build a fantastically complex device like a Prius or iPhone, all without the oversight or instruction of any central planner. If we get the rules right.”

    Smith is at the heart of Darwinism. Evolution also doesn’t require a central planner. I’m not sure “getting the rules right” is the proper analogy. The rule that really matters is that we should all be free to make choices for ourselves. All the rules we need to live by in order to flourish seem to be inflicted on us by the universe. If the fact is that flourishing requires us to be free to make choices for ourselves, then that certainly isn’t a rule we get to choose.

    When geese migrate in v-formation, they’re behaving as if they understand aerodynamics–something they couldn’t possibly understand. They aren’t flying in v-formation because they picked the right rules. Rather, because each of them is free to pursue its own individual interests from its own individual perspective, the path of least resistance makes them cooperate as if they understood things like aerodynamics and choose to employ it.

    The rule that they should all be free to make choices for themselves wasn’t picked by them, and they didn’t pick what the path of least resistance would be any more than water from snow melt chooses to flow like a river to the sea. The path of least resistance is inflicted on geese by their environment. The rules of scarcity, economy of movement, and energy efficiency aren’t picked by them. The world we inhabit rewards cooperation, and it would punish them for failing to cooperate whether they liked it or not. Those are the rules.

    When Darwin speculates about the evolutionary origins of altruism among humans, he might as well have been talking about Smith’s invisible hand, which causes individuals, some apparently no smarter than geese, to behave as if they understood things that they couldn’t possibly understand. Participating in markets makes them cooperate as if they cared about things they might not even know about. IF IF IF the cost and efficiency of electric cars drops below the alternative, people who couldn’t care less about the polar bears will buy them.

    We don’t really get to pick the rules. We can choose to break the rules and suffer the consequences, but the real rules remain the same. Wealth redistribution, the drug war, violating people’s religious rights, foreign wars of aggression, failing to protect stores from shoplifters, etc., etc.–the negative consequences of these things aren’t optional. These behaviors are maladaptations. Like geese that refuse to follow the path of least resistance, we can suffer the consequences of breaking the rules, but the rules are what they are. We don’t get to choose them. We can just choose to be in harmony with them and enjoy the rewards of doing so.

    1. “Like geese that refuse to follow the path of least resistance, we can suffer the consequences of breaking the rules, but the rules are what they are. We don’t get to choose them. We can just choose to be in harmony with them and enjoy the rewards of doing so.”

      True. Liberal societies have rules, mostly unwritten, oft-times misunderstood, and sometimes unknowable, which tend to follow an evolutionary path as do the geese. For the geese who choose to migrate alone, the ultimate end is extinction, or at least stagnation. But like the geese, in a liberal society, it’s an individual’s right to decide their own path. And sometimes the flock can learn from a rogue goose or gander.

      1. Geese have instinct that steers their behavior; instinct fashioned by evolution. Men also have behavioral instincts, fashioned by evolution, some beneficial in 21st C, some less so. Technology and philosophy have made some instincts disadvantageous.

    2. failing to protect stores from shoplifters, failing to accept the results of fair elections, turning over to the table when one is losing a game where one has agreed to the rules, being a bad sport, etc., etc.–the negative consequences of these things aren’t optional.

      1. Not many people refuse to accept the results of elections they perceive as fair.

        1. The entire point of the article above is that their perceptions that an election was unfair could be wrong. So, people who perceive the election as fair and unfair most present their evidence — in the case of the 2020 Presidential election, the people who think there was widespread fraud have failed to provide sufficient evidence.

          1. Sure, you can place the entire onus of proof on the people who object to the results of an election which happened under rules changed at the last minute, rather than requiring the people who changed those rules and then just happened to win to demonstrate that their alterations to procedure didn’t result in an unfair outcome.

            I mean, “shut up and accept it” hasn’t ever worked before, but you can try it anyway. I’m sure it will go perfectly.

            Seriously, if the Democrats were going to be smart about this, *they’d* be the ones conducting audits, to *prove* that the alterations that were made to election procedure still resulted in a fair election. And yet, for whatever reason, the same people who exclaimed that Trump had stolen the election in 2016 and chanted “not my president” for four years are doing everything they can to prevent that sort of thing.

            Nope, can’t see why that would make anyone suspicious. Must just be a bunch of racist sore losers.

            1. The picture you are painting is highly inaccurate.

              There were audits. For example, three separate audits in Georgia. A Republican-led state, which didn’t stop Trump from vilifying it’s Republican governor and Secretary of State when the audits didn’t give the results he wanted.

              In Arizona, for example, when Cyber Ninjas accused the local officials of wiping data from the voting machines, those officials explained how they were looking at the wrong files because they didn’t know what they were doing.

              In no way has this been a case of onus only being on those who claim fraud, and in no way has it only been Democrats accused of or providing data to defend against accusations of fraud.

              1. As I recall, Georgia did recounts. Recounting garbage (ballots without proper chain of custody or whatever*) is going to give you garbage results no matter how many times you do it.

                *I don’t remember all of the specific claims.

              2. You want consequences, white Mike?
                You’re not going to enjoy them, goebbels

          2. Now try 2016 POTUS election.

          3. “failed to provide sufficient evidence” — Mike’s stated “truth” seems to run in contrast to logic and evidence.

            1. This was always a good post on that:

              JohannesDinkle
              February.3.2021 at 8:44 am

              There is no proof the election was ‘stolen.’ That is not the same as saying it wasn’t. Look at the Lois Lerner/IRS thing – no proof at all, but the statistics smell like dead fish.

              Imagine you made a bet with a man that he couldn’t flip a quarter 20 times and get nothing but heads – paying you $1000 if he lost and him $5000 if he won.
              Because of Covid, you had to stand six feet away and he wore nitrile gloves. He gets nothing but heads and tosses his quarter into an open bag of 100 quarters, shaking the bag.

              The odds of him getting 20 in a row is 0.0001%. Not impossible, but practically so. You fish around in the bag and find a two-headed quarter, but no fingerprints on it.

              You will never have proof, but you know you were cheated.

              The best example of proof is how the Democrats and their establishment allies are acting exactly like they just stole an election.

              Nobody hires 100 lawyers to hide an election victory.
              Nobody has the DOJ interfere in a state ordered audit because they won fair and square.
              Nobody tells the big social media players to censor discussion of a fair and honest win.
              Nobody has their political opponents microphones turned off with a fair win.
              Nobody calls a protest against election fraud that was less virulent than any other that year, an “insurrection” if they were legitimate.
              A fairly elected government doesn’t fill the capitol with troops and razor wire.

              1. Good summary.

                We also have evidence of cheating such as double voters, voting rolls fixed post election (arizona) only after pointed out, las Vegas scrambling to update voters addresses quietly, thousands of votes miscounted, illegal curing of ballots, etc.

                White Mike is just in denial.

                1. White Mike is just a liar and a party shill.

                  1. i agree that he is not in denial! he does have a favorite child here i think

              2. I would have liked to see Trump win, but the evidence provided that the election was stolen was very, very weak. There was not a single irrefutable case that showed anything but tiny irregularities.

                But there is not rock solid proof it wasn’t stolen either.

                Until we have a system where every vote has an auditable chain of custody EVERY election will be able to be contested. We are in for quadrennial bonanzas for election lawyers.

          4. You never seem to comment on the 2000, 2004, or 2016 elections. Why is that? Or the 2018 Georgia gubenatorial election. Because only 1 side wanted to do away with the Electoral College, and only one side actually turned over the table and did away with rules that make elections freer and fairer. You mendacious shitstain

      2. Which election are you talking about? You never seemed to care before.

        Also failing to accept fraud happens every election and can be tilted accepting the narrative of the state. Failing to accept your narrative is a lie, such as mass fire extinguisher deaths.

      3. where one has agreed to the rules,

        The irony of you ignoring all the judicial decisions showing agents in states and counties changed the rules illegally prior to the election. Lol.

    3. IF IF IF the cost and efficiency of electric cars drops below the alternative, people who couldn’t care less about the polar bears will buy them.
      Got a Tesla last month. Put on 1200 miles. It cost $60 for the electricity.
      (The vehicle it replaced would have burned $225 worth of gasoline.)

      1. The Prius Prime I recently bought, if driven only locally — say within 25 miles, has no problem netting well over 150 miles per gallon. Based on what I pay for electricity (including fees, taxes, etc,) I am paying, while driving electric, the equivalent of about $1.10 per gallon. Besides, I get to feel extra smug.*

        When I tire of feeling smug, I drive my Wrangler JK, which gets about 18 mpg. Well, at least is a different kind of smug.

        *referencing South Park

        1. Man, that’s way better than the 4 mpg I average.

          Though I’m guessing your Prius might have a somewhat difficult time moving 47,000 lbs of cargo at once… 😀

          More seriously, I think that hybrids are a far better idea than pure electric cars. The range versus refuel time issue makes pure electrics vastly less desirable from my perspective.

          I’m vaguely daydreaming about shoehorning some Tesla components and a turbodiesel generator into an old Dodge Monaco I’ve got.

          1. “I’m vaguely daydreaming about shoehorning some Tesla components and a turbodiesel generator into an old Dodge Monaco I’ve got.”

            A very cool idea. Back in the eighties, a friend of mine squeezed a hemi scrounged from an ambulance into a 50’s Dodge Power Wagon. It was enviable.

            Recharge time it an issue, especially on long trips. But the batteries in many electrics can be recharged to 80% capacity in under an hour, so,not so bad. Better yet, however, are some radically new batteries, the first of which could hit the cellphone industry within the next couple of year, which, besides having double the capacity of current batteries will fully recharge in fifteen minutes.

            But yeah, for our use, a plug-in hybrid makes more sense.

            1. 80% of a ~300 mile range in an hour versus 100% of a 600 mile range in 10 minutes is the big issue for me. Faster charge and longer range would remove a lot of my practical objections.

              That sounds like an awesome Power Wagon. I kinda wanna do a Cummins powered one, some day, but I already have far too many car projects.

              1. It was pretty cool. I once thought about, and drove, a Cummings-powered Dodge pick-up. I was impressed.

                Yeah, it takes five hours for my Prius to recharge at 120v. On the other hand, both my wife and I are retired, so I just plug it in a couple times a week into a standard outlet, and am good to go. When one can recharge it in a matter of minutes it will be even better.

      2. Does the $60 include any fees for your use of the roads (operation and maintenance)? For gas and diesel, the fee is added at the pump as a “gas tax.”

        1. Zero.
          (So far.)

        2. The point remains that even if there were no subsidies, there would reasons to buy an electric car that have nothing to do with the environment–IF IF IF the true costs were lower than the alternatives.

          Some people like electric cars because they don’t want their wives interacting with the homeless guys that hassle her for change while she’s pumping gas. She can just plug it into the garage at night instead!

          1. She could find a full service station or one not located in a shithole with hordes of panhandlers orbiting the pumps.

            1. The point remains that if the true costs of owning an electric car were lower than the alternatives, there would be good reasons for consumers to buy them–even if the consumer in question didn’t give a shit about the environment.

              1. “The point remains that if the true costs of owning an electric car were lower than the alternatives, there would be good reasons for consumers to buy them–even if the consumer in question didn’t give a shit about the environment”

                This is true. The first generation of Prii (unofficial plural of Prius) were, for most people, not cost-effective. Unless one drove a whole LOT of miles — it simply wouldn’t pay for itself. With hybrids becoming both more efficient, and the relative costs lower, not so much an issue.

                I chose a plug-in hybrid over a “plain-Jane” hybrid because the tax credit paid the difference. I MIGHT have gone for the plug-in anyway, but it would not have made any sense economically, since, being retired, I don’t drive that much. This too, will change.

              2. The initial success of the Prius was mainly in California where two pieces conspired to create value: 1) California law opened up HOV lanes to Hybrid owners without having to go through the effort of carpooling. 2) The prius was remarkably conspicuous, allowing others to social signal their superiority in Silicon Valley, where the vast, vast majority of early generation Prius’s were sold.

                There were some studies showing that when you compared the Prius (conspicuous hybrid) to the Civic Hybrid (looked like any other civic), the fact that the latter was not conspicuous explained why it didn’t sell as well (and explains why every other hybrid to come out tried showing that fact off with big lettering). Another study showed (by looking at new and resold cars) that without the HOV lane access, the prius’s premium nearly completely disappeared.

            2. “She could find a full service station or one not located in a shithole with hordes of panhandlers orbiting the pumps.”

              Have you ever been to California?

              1. Nope. And I will continue to use peer pressure to get you to graduate to a red or purple state. 🙂

        3. “‘Does the $60 include any fees for your use of the roads (operation and maintenance)? For gas and diesel, the fee is added at the pump as a “gas tax.”’

          A very relevant question, and one which will need to be addressed very soon. From what I understand, Denmark collects such taxes when the automobile is purchased, based on predictions of how much wear-and-tear the vehicle put on the roads over its lifetime. Although it does inflate the cost of a new car by a large amount, it still might be better than tracking every damn car out there.

          1. It just occurred to me that taxing the tires might be a better idea. Even electric cars need tires, and it would be a more accurate way of matching actual use to the individual user of the auto or truck.

            1. Interesting. But I think the problem there is that it would encourage people to keep driving on worn tires longer than is safe.

      3. When you spend 5000 to replace the battery dont be shocked.

        One of the main problems with Tesla and electric is that in extremely cold or jot environments,, battery life is shit. If your building doesn’t have a garage you bear extra costs due to batteries. This is never discussed.

        1. Good morning Jesse:

          While heat and cold can effect the efficiency of a battery (that’s why the batteries have cooling vents and filters, it doesn’t make them “not worth shit.” Well, maybe in Antarctica or the Mojave in July.

          Tesla batteries are entirely different matter, as is the car. Battery replacement, often including peripheral components, and labor, can cost $11,000-$15,000.

          The cost of battery replacement for my Prius is about $4200, though it can be a little as $3500 if one shops around. It comes with an 8-year/150,000 mile warranty and is not “pro-rated.” If it fails under warranty, they replace it free. And, if not covered by warranty, there is a $1350 credit for recycling the core, since they are rebuilt.

          So, worst case scenario, the most it should cost is about $2,900. And, as in the past, the cost of these batteries is going down and their reliability is increasing.

    4. HO2 seeks its own level.

    5. Foreign wars of aggression don’t seem to fit well with the other things. Foreign wars of aggression seem to be something humans evolved to do imo. I believe the practice is older and more universal than even religion.
      It’s useful for technological advancement and getting disparate people’s to cooperate. It also helps elimate large portions of adult males, something that many other species also must accomplish. I’d also argue that all wars are about resources, so wealth redistribution is probably a natural state of humanity also. (Which is why we can’t seem to shake it).
      I’m not saying war is “good”, but evolution doesn’t care about morals. War as part of the human condition led to humans being so successful as a species that we think we’re above nature (in some senses we definitely are). Maladaption implies that the evolved trait is a hindrance to the species and on a macro nihilistic level, I don’t think that is true.
      My line of thinking is that if we don’t find a way to beat people’s evolved instincts, peace and “progress” will necessarily lead us right back to war due to an overabundance of unmarriagable young men fighting for whatever the scarce resource de jour is.

      1. If the Romans were better off when they conquered a nation and carried its people off as slaves, Rome might have survived if they’d harnessed the rights of all those people and unlocked their economic potential as free people instead. Maybe think of it this way. Rome might have been better off for plundering the resources of its enemies, but they could not maximize the value of those assets. Wiping out Carthage and salting the earth. Wiping out Jerusalem. What a waste of assets!

        The reason the Romans built their roads as straight as an arrow, no matter the terrain, some still in use today for various reasons, and the reason they built their aqueducts so well that they’re still standing (and some are still functioning) is because they used slave labor. Because they didn’t have to pay for the labor, they squandered an important resource on the ridiculous quality of the roads and aqueducts. They needlessly squandered an important asset like labor to build infrastructure to such specifications that it outlasted the Empire itself. How stupid! And aqueducts and roads are just one example.

        The reason we don’t build roads and aqueducts to last that long is because the costs we pay for labor restricts our ability to squander such an important resource. One of the reasons we don’t conquer an empire like China or a country like Chile is because we can get more value from them with trade than we can win by conquering their country and holding their territory. Occupations are an expensive pain in the ass that destroys assets. Trade is much better than foreign wars of aggression.

        1. This is all true, and also utterly orthogonal to the point AM made.

          1. I don’t think so. I don’t believe an abundance of a resource like labor (with rights) is a bad thing in a market. Darwinism is the explanation for why Adam Smith’s invisible hand triumphs over Malthusian views of “problems” associated with population growth.

            Excess population? An abundance of labor isn’t a problem, and squandering an important resource like that through destructive endeavors like wars of foreign aggression isn’t a legitimate long term solution to any economic problem in a capitalism system. One child policies and starving off your excess population may make sense within the bizarre context of a socialist state–and maybe wars of aggression make sense in those contexts, too.

            And maybe that’s part of the reason why they lose. Maybe that’s part of the reason why authoritarian and socialist government trends towards the ash heap of history. Treating free people as a resource and protecting their rights is like a beneficial adaptation, and authoritarian and socialist systems can’t compete.

          2. The point about making awesome roads an aqueducts is squandering labor was not true. Not at all. They also made sewers, and fountains, and forums, and all of this was civilization and and a much higher standard of living for everyone, including slaves. What else were they supposed to make with their manual labor?

            1. Our roads are typically meant to last for 20 or thirty years because it’s cost prohibitive to build them to last longer than that–especially because of the labor. The materials costs are more or less the same. Over-building is a serious issue.

              o·ver·build (ō′vər-bĭld′)
              v. o·ver·built (-bĭlt′), o·ver·build·ing, o·ver·builds
              v.tr.
              1. To build over or on top of.
              2. To construct more buildings in (an area) than necessary.
              3. To build with excessive size or elaboration.
              4. To make more sturdy than would ordinarily be considered necessary.

              The net present value of an aqueduct that lasts for 2,000 years should not be financed. The people of Rome may have benefited from aqueducts, but their economy did not benefit from squandering labor unnecessarily. They could have used just enough labor to make the aqueduct good enough that it needed to be maintained and every 20 years. What a waste of manpower! You do not maximize the potential of your economy by squandering important resources like labor unnecessarily–and it was even worse before the industrial revolution when manual labor was the only kind of labor.

              1. Germany is building great roads today with expensive labor.

                Our cheaply built roads destroy value in autos and trucks, not to mention accidents. Where is that in the equation?

                Roman roads likely saved the value of produce and property falling off bouncing carts, and saved time for laborers and soldiers lost in lost battles. Where does that fit?

      2. War is the natural state of existing, from the subatomic particle on up.

        1. Physics is what is, and is inescapable

          1. A socialist at rest tends to stay at rest and collect welfare.

        2. “War is the natural state of existing, from the subatomic particle on up.”

          —-Nardz

          If you didn’t read the article, a fat chunk of it is about the Father of Capitalism ripping apart Hobbes.

          “Smith elaborated a sophisticated theory of where human cooperation comes from, how to encourage and exploit it, how to wire it into societies’ rules and institutions. He argued that Thomas Hobbes was wrong to believe that the natural human condition is a war of all against all: Human beings are oriented toward cooperation as well as conflict.

          —-Jonathan Raunch

          He also goes on to attack Hobbesian arguments about authoritarianism being the only alternative to social conflict. Endless class struggle justifying authoritarianism is communist shit. And the Father of capitalism destroyed those arguments in 1759 and 1776.

          1. P.S. Within species, competition is more about males competing with each other for the attention of females. The natural condition of bonobos isn’t war. It’s screwing. They hardly ever stop screwing.

            “Sexual activity generally plays a major role in bonobo society, being used as what some scientists perceive as a greeting, a means of forming social bonds, a means of conflict resolution, and postconflict reconciliation . . .

            Observations in the wild indicate that the males among the related common chimpanzee communities are hostile to males from outside the community. Parties of males ‘patrol’ for the neighboring males that might be traveling alone, and attack those single males, often killing them.[94] This does not appear to be the behavior of bonobo males or females, which seem to prefer sexual contact over violent confrontation with outsiders.

            —-Bonobo

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo#Sociosexual_behaviour

          2. I still don’t know why you demand that libertarians vote for Republicans who you have described as being authoritarian and then shit all over authoritarianism.

            Don’t you see a contradiction there?

            Oh, but according to you pointing out the contradictions in your logic is an ad hominem attack which by definition ignores your logic and says you’re wrong because of some personal flaw.

            Too many contradictions. You’re like a walking Starburst commercial.

            1. Considering how thoroughly, and repeatedly, Ken’s explained himself, you not knowing says a lot about you and nothing about him or his position.

              1. Sarc’s a troll.

              2. Ken has thoroughly explained that Republicans are “mere” authoritarians, and that libertarians must vote for Republicans.

                You don’t have to be a master in logic to conclude that Ken wants libertarians to vote for authoritarians.

                Sure he thoroughly explained that that’s not what he meant. But that is the logic whether he likes it or not.

                And that’s why he muted me. Because logic is an ad hominem attack.

                1. Roosevelt was a mere authoritarian, compared to Hitler. In a contest between Roosevelt and Hitler, I know which one I would pick.

                  I would rather be locked in an enclosure with a panda than a grizzly. IBoth are bears, capable of doing me great harm. I would rather have a 6 foot boa in my bed than a 6 ft rattlesnake. Sometimes degree is all that matters.

                2. You’re not doing logic here, you’re attempting to rationalize your feelz

                  1. Um, no. You’re embarrassing yourself.

                    1. I’m sure Dee agrees with you.

                    2. White Mike, sqrlsy, collectivistjeff, echospinner, bramdybuck too probably – a group that has no need for intellect, integrity, or credibility.
                      They, like sarcasmic, still haven’t seemed to figure out that their previous statements are here free to be read and assessed by anybody.

          3. Ken, you’re a believer in physics.
            It is what is.
            War is existence at a fundamental level.
            The opposite would be stasis – non existence – and absolute zero has never been observed.

            1. Civilization is crime against nature, as it breaks natural law (which is why any and all governments are organized crime).
              You can make plenty of arguments for why this crime is a necessary/good thing, but denying the fact that nature is what it is only weakens your case.

            2. Competition and cooperation are BOTH valuable to species. See bees.

  7. While AI prospers, humans are witnessing epistemic decay of philosophical and moral disputation from the level of Hobbes and Calvin to Calvin & Hobbes.

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2021/07/the-origins-of-climateball-in-works-of.html

  8. Because all people have eyes and ears and minds, and because we must check and consult with each other to find truth, the many, not just the few, are entitled to assert their own beliefs and contest others’. Epistemic rights, like political rights, belong to all of us; empiricism is the duty of all of us. No exceptions for priests, princes, or partisans.

    Well, we had a good run with that idea. Unfortunately we’re regressing on that front, the priests and the princes and the partisans are back. There are people who have a monopoly on the Truth, and it is heresy to question, not just their Truth, but their authority to declare what is the Truth. You will be banished from Twitter and Facebook, doxxed and hounded from your job, be declared persona non grata and driven from polite society, be treated as an insurrectionist and an existential threat to the republic, be given no place to assert your arguments or defenses, if you dare to question these things.

    And the real insult is that they call their modern-day Inquisition “democracy” and “diversity and inclusiveness” and “science” and “caring”.

    1. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

      Today, that is regarded as the definition of a silly dispute, but back in the day it was a real argument over whether or not angels were purely spiritual or corporeal beings. But at heart, it was an argument over who had the authority to declare the truth of the matter. If you’ve ever read the book or seen the movie The Name of the Rose, you know that that was serious business and it could cost you your life to be on the wrong side of that argument.

      And that is why I frequently refer to Martin Luther as the first American, he questioned the authority of the Pope to declare the Truth on matters of faith, he argued that we all had been given brains and consciences by God and we could decide for ourselves what the Word of God meant.

      We are slipping back into that pre-Enlightenment mindset, that we dare not question the “experts”, that we must subjugate our own interests to the rule of the elites, that individuality is a dire threat to the health of the collective and must be stamped out.

      1. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”

        The answer then, as now, is “as many as God wants to dance on the head of a pin”.

        1. This is question-begging on top of question-begging because it assumes the premise it has to prove, i.e. that a God exists.

          1. If we’re already accepting the existence of the pin-dancing angels, I think it’s okay to assume a divine controller.

            1. Unless God’s away on business.

              1. I recommend Preacher, on AMC.

                1. Tom Waits is in it?

                  1. The Preacher’s father was also a preacher, so kinda.

      2. The question “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” was a Begging The Question Fallacy. It assumed a whole bunch of premises it should have first proven, e.g. that angels exist, that angels dance, that they were of sufficient smallness to dance on a pin, etc.

        1. No No No No!!!!!!!
          THERE IS NO GOD YOU GUYS!!!!!!!

          Calm down dickhead, we get it.

      3. Welcome to the Endarkenment.

      4. Some bohmenian guys did it less successfully first.

  9. The entire point of the lefts current push of CRT and Marxist doctrine is to make truth not exist, to rely on the subjective instead of the objective. Once that switch is made the culture in charge determines truth. That is the entire reason for post modernism.

    1. Watch Pulp Fiction again.

      On the one hand, you’ve got a guy who thinks that everything is relative. It just depends on how you look at it. In Amsterdam, they call McDonalds cheeseburgers something else. He thinks his boss killed a guy for rubbing his wife’s feet. His boss’ wife says that’s ridiculous. Her husband wouldn’t throw someone out of a window just because he rubbed her feet–so that’s reality, right? It’s all a matter of perspective.

      She snorts his heroin stash thinking it’s cocaine. Her perspective doesn’t matter. She snorted way too much heroin, and now she’s overdosed. She’s not breathing. It doesn’t matter how Vinnie looks at it. She’s going to die because she snorted his heroin. And when his boss finds out explanations about her thinking it was cocaine won’t count for shit. When his boss finds out, Vinnie is a dead man.

      Point being, the CRT people can teach us that linking individual effort and achievement is racist, but they can’t actually create a real world in which American society as a whole is prosperous–without rewarding individual achievement. We’ve seen people try this in China, the USSR, and North Korea. They all failed miserably, and it wasn’t because they didn’t try hard enough. They could hardly have tried any harder.

      They failed because, in reality, you can’t create a prosperous society without rewarding individual achievement. China, the USSR, and North Korea are also a warning about how bad the negative consequences can get before people finally shake off the yoke of progressives living in a world of make believe, but it should also be reassuring to know that the Democrats can’t escape the negative consequences of their stupidity.

      And we don’t necessarily need to suffer the negative consequences in order to avoid them. Hasn’t CRT provoked a big negative backlash? Aren’t wealthy taxpayers fleeing progressive cities and states like mad–and even the Millennials, too? Isn’t Nancy Pelosi acting like she expects the Democrats to lose control of the House in 2022? Do you have any doubt but that Trump would have won if it hadn’t been for the pandemic and the lockdowns?

      They can do a lot of damage to us with Marxist fairy tales, and that’s a curse–but it’s also a blessing. What if implementing Marxism didn’t have any negative consequences in the real world? Would that make you feel better or worse? If that were the case, shouldn’t we throw in the towel on liberty and capitalism? There really is consolation to be had in the realization that in addition to being awful and evil, the progressives are also wrong in reality.

      In the end, Bruce Willis’ character (the absolutist) literally catches the reality denying relativist, John Travolta’s character, with his pants down. And that’s more or less the way these stories always play out in the end. What’d the last survey say about the way American view the news media–something like 29% of them have a positive view? If you can’t find faith in your fellow Americans, at least have faith that reality will eventually assert itself.

      1. A good read on how democracy can turn into tyranny:

        https://mises.org/wire/democracys-road-tyranny

        1. I know it can.

          Do you understand that Marxists can’t actually change reality with their falsehoods?

          A noble lie is still a lie.

          1. And the sad thing is we’re being dragged there by overly niave Top Men who have no clue what they’re actually doing. They’re playing with the matches, but they don’t even understand that fire is hot.

        2. Again, Thucydides wrote about all of this 2500 years ago

          1. Haha. Thucydides, Hobbes and pulp fiction in the same thread.

            I like this place.

            1. It has its charms

      2. I am a long term optimist and short term pessimist. I think that matches your final sentence. I believe the long term trend is towards more information, more decentralization; flip sides of the same coin. Gutenberg is a good inflection point, although the trend began before evolution of single celled life itself, if you want to see it that way; with the Big Bang itself.

        While the short term outlook is gloomy as all get out, history tells me there will be a backlash, that the pendulum will shrug off 1619 and CRT as no more consequential than other blips. Xi’s tightening of the CCP shackles reminds me mostly of the last few years of the USSR. Khrushchev trying to loosen up after Stalin was like Deng trying to loosen up after Mao; then along came several non-entities, and then came Putin and Xi, and both have made their mark so personal that when they leave the scene, it will be a free-for-all and unravel everything they think they have established. Throw in Franco for another comparison; he won the civil war, forced a peace of sorts, and it all evaporated when he died.

        As for the US government itself, my reading of history says it will fade to insignificance some day, which certainly seems counter to the current visible trend. But the internet is just beginning; at some point, peer networking will replace this centralized DNS and ISP mess we have today, because that is how decentralization works. Encryption will hide more and more of its happenings from government snoops, and what they can’t see, they can’t control. More and more of the economy is unrelated to physical processes like manufacturing and warehouses and distribution networks; 3D printing will hide end products from government datasets, and they won’t be able to forbid shipping the raw materials any more than the USSR could forbid fax machines and telephones. Eventually government will be left controlling property and transportation and not much else, and shrink accordingly.

        At least that’s the only way I can imagine current governments decentralizing. But if you look at the current crop, including the CCP, they have both a lot more control and a lot less, just as the USSR did in its final years. They can’t ban technology, and tech reality marches on, undermining them even while they assert more control.

        The greenies are in the same boat. They haven’t yet figured out that the very tech they claim to want to ban is what makes their green mission possible; it ought to be clear that Africans won’t shut up and settle for an energy-poor lifestyle while the greenies keep their energy-intensive lifestyle. Demographic trends are clear: rich people have fewer offspring, as a consequence of being rich, and the world will either have fewer and richer Africans contributing to society as equals, or it will have more and poorer Africans pounding at the doors. The greenies will end up as slightly bigger blips in the history books, but still insignificant in the long term, mainly remembered for their racism.

        1. I think there are a lot of legitimate environmentalists who really do understand that capitalism, entrepreneurship, and technology are the only way to achieve their goals.

          A firehouse is a type of house. A housefire is a type of fire. An environmentalist progressive might be a type of progressive, but it isn’t a term for someone who cares more about the environment than redistributing wealth. Progressives who would rather let the world fry than embrace capitalist, non-government solutions have no business calling themselves environmentalists. Real environmentalists resent progressives for coopting their cause and shitting all over it more than anyone.

          I think of myself as something like an environmentalist libertarian, and that’s because my primary allegiance is to liberty, justice and capitalism–and I think our environmental problems (not to mention our other problems) are best addressed through liberty and capitalism. Some might say I’m being hypocritical for refusing to embrace socialism if it might save the environment. Before they get that far, they need to show me how embracing socialism will save the environment–and I haven’t seen a convincing, rational, fact based argument for that yet.

          There is plenty of static on the right side of the equation for capitalist solutions, too. People on the right seem to prefer the term “conservationist” to “environmentalist”. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. You might get a nastier reaction from a deer hunter or a bass fisherman for littering than you would from an environmentalist progressive. That being said, libertarian capitalists who would rather oppose non-government capitalist solutions–if it means it saving [or conserving] the environment–have no business calling themselves capitalists.

          The progressives may want us to equate environmentalism with the left, but just because they want us to think something, doesn’t mean we should. I certainly don’t take my orders from them.

      3. Royale with cheese.

        1. Indeed. As The Bard observed: “What’s in a name…”

          I still have seared in my memory the name the commercial called it: “TwoAllBeefPattiesSpecialSauceLettuceCheesePicklesOnionsOnASesemeSeedBun.”

          1. That’s a Big Mac, not a Quarter Pounder.

            Though I think they should just call it the Tenth Kilo’er.

            1. Le Big Mac

            2. Ah, that’s right. My mistake.

  10. What a waste of time. Everyone knows that it’s the president of the United States that determines what is true, unless he’s the wrong president, as determined by Twitter/Facebook users, in which case the truth is whatever Twitter/Facebook moderators get to decide what is true, unless they’re being controlled by the wrong president, as determined by Fox News.

    It’s really quite simple.

  11. “He argued that Thomas Hobbes was wrong to believe that the natural human condition is a war of all against all”

    Hobbes was a critical theorist?

    1. “Michel de Montaigne was a politician and lawyer who had become exhausted by the conflicts of politics and sophistries of law. In the late 1500s, he shut himself in the tower of his family château, where he wrote essays that poked and prodded at received wisdom of all sorts, including the proposition that human beings could ever reliably know anything.”

      Apparently, de Montaigne, too.

    2. Perhaps a Calvinist too.

    3. Yep. Before Marx.

  12. “Solving those problems requires a constitution, in a broad sense of the word: not necessarily a piece of paper or a formal law, but a social operating system that seeks to elicit cooperation and resolve differences on the basis of rules, not personal authority or tribal affiliation or brute force.”

    And also not “democracy”, at least in the sense of momentary simple majority decisions in place of fundamental and universal rules.

    1. Democracy is brute force. The idea is to see which side has more fighters, then skip the fight.

  13. Well written
    Great comments
    More, please

  14. Because all people have eyes and ears and minds, and because we must check and consult with each other to find truth, the many, not just the few, are entitled to assert their own beliefs and contest others’. Epistemic rights, like political rights, belong to all of us; empiricism is the duty of all of us. No exceptions for priests, princes, or partisans.

    This makes me think of Fallibilism–whether applied to the scientific method, history, or anything else.

    https://iep.utm.edu/fallibil/

    The things that are most likely to be true are not the things that are most plausible, the most respected, or pronounced so by the most experts.

    The things that are most likely to be true are the things that have withstood the most and best scrutiny, and, yes, if your claim can’t survive the valid scrutiny of everyday people, it probably isn’t true.

    I can’t help but picture Dr. Fauci, earlier this week, screaming at Rand Paul, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”. Dr. Fauci tells us that his experts, up and down the chain of command, have looked at it and pronounced that it’s not . . .

    If Dr. Fauci’s claims can’t survive the valid scrutiny of truck drivers, waitresses, and dish washers, then it’s unlikely to be true–no matter what his favorite priests, princes, or partisans say. How absurd to think he and his merry band of experts are the only authority on truth!

    1. I was reminded of the initial stupidity of the lockdowns, trying to determine what businesses and industries were essential, and especially how truck drivers came to be glorified as essential, so much that for a short while, I even wondered if the relaxation of the regs on driving and resting would be inverted into mandatory more driving and less resting. California soon discovered that shutting down restaurants and banning food trucks at rest stops was an impediment to long haul truckers who needed to eat, but those regs were per-county, and the county officials enjoyed bucking the state officials, just as state officials had taken so whole-heartedly to lockdowns as a means of bucking federal officials, especially Trump, who hadh had so much fun tweaking the politically correct crowd, who so much enjoyed tweaking the status quo crowd.

      1. Yeah, it’s a really terrible idea to make it impossible for your cities to get shipments of food. Those first couple months of the two weeks were unpleasant.

        I don’t think the stupidity of trying to force truckers to drive more would have lasted long if they’d tried it. I do wish they’d taken the hint that the HOS regs don’t need to be as rigid as they are. Goddamn that shit is annoying. Rules written by bureaucrats and enforced by a computer.

        1. “ Those first couple months of the two weeks were unpleasant.”

          You can say that again. I thought the shit was going to hit the fan. It’s insane that so many are begging to go back to that on the flimsiest of reasons.

    2. If Dr. Fauci’s claims can’t survive the valid scrutiny of truck drivers, waitresses, and dish washers, then it’s unlikely to be true–no matter what his favorite priests, princes, or partisans say.

      Oh this line of reasoning is so silly.

      If scientists can’t convince truck drivers that quantum mechanics is true, then quantum mechanics is unlikely to be true?

      1. Lol

        Chemjeff showing he really doesn’t understand what words mean.

      2. I hated your whiny crying bullshit over at the Ace of Spades HQ years ago and still hate your new and unimproved progressive/leftist whiny, crying and How Dare You bullshit here. I mean this literally, die a horrific death in a grease fire you useless, stupid, arrogant and pathetic piece of shit.

  15. No one gets to “decide” the truth. The truth is.

    1. It’s what’s there both when you sleep and when you awake. What we rational beings have to decide is finding it and accepting it.

    2. “No one gets to “decide” the truth. ”

      Which is why, perhaps, it is of so little value. Whatever works is a good substitute. We get to decide it and use it. What is the truth of the first law of thermodynamics? (Conservation of energy) It can’t be derived empirically, it’s a philosophical concept that goes back to Aristotle. The fact is that it works, and using it leads to desirable outcomes. That’s good enough, as we may never know the ultimate truth of it.

      1. There wasn’t the math to describe it well until Newton and Leibniz so in that sense it was natural philosophy. It is however one of the most well understood concepts in physics and engineering in both theory and practice. And of course Einstein showed that it didn’t always work out the way it was thought to pre-20th century. We understand it so well because the phenomenon is measurable within the limits of measurement uncertainty and all the interesting parts have been worked out so thoroughly that it moved from philosophy to hypothesis to theory to fact.

        1. “all the interesting parts have been worked out so thoroughly that it moved from philosophy to hypothesis to theory to fact.”

          Not so sure about the truth of it though. The discovery of dark matter and energy seem to throw some doubt on the matter (if you’ll pardon the expression). No doubt though, it’s worked well up to now and is an extremely useful philosophical concept.

          1. Newtonian physics breaks down at relativistic speeds, but for all practical purposes it’s the truth.

            1. Doesn’t it also break down, especially for practical purposes, when it comes to solving 3 (or 4 or 5 etc) body problems? Whether it’s the truth or not really doesn’t help us much.

              How about the truth of comparative advantage in economics? Seems true enough in Ricardo’s account of trade between two nations, England and Portugal. But in the real world, there’s almost 200 countries and the truth of Ricardo’s thesis is impossible to discern.

              1. Unless you study history, or logic.

              2. I don’t know about your first paragraph, but as far as comparative advantage goes that’s just logic that works no matter how many countries you’re talking about.

      2. “ Which is why, perhaps, it is of so little value. Whatever works is a good substitute.”

        I agree from a Darwinian standpoint but, when people are ready to destroy your life over a pronoun I do think Absolute Truth matters.

    3. Tell that to those who disagree with the outcome of the election.

      1. Congrats on adding nothing to the discussion.

      2. Dee already squawked this.

      3. The 2016 election?

        1. THAT WAS DIFFERENT!!!

          1. Not really.

      4. And what if calling the ‘Big Lie’, the big lie is not the truth but the real “Big Lie”?

        1. Which one? Facebook getting Trump elected, or Facebook getting Biden elected?

          1. Has anybody serious actually claimed thst Facebook got Biden elected? Or is it that people claim the 500million that Zuck spent “fortifying the election” with unaccountable ballot drop boxes was partially responsible? Cause those are two different claims.

            1. Sarc with a strawman!?

            2. The funny part is the Repubs blaming Facebook (in part) for squelching anti-Biden news and viewpoints and helping defeat Trump, and the Dems hating Facebook for not being as woke as the other social media platforms, and letting some conservatives speak.

              1. Funny in a complete-submission-to-totalitarianism kind of way, I guess

                1. Ha ha! That blow from the totalitarian cudgel is so comedically satisfying!

          2. Which one are they calling the big lie over and over again? Let me help you whispersit’s the latter.

            1. So Facebook got Trump elected? I’m so confused.

              1. That’s right, the 150 million Zuckerberg paid to “fortify” the 2020 presidential election went to to the Republican campaign.
                Lol.

                1. 400 million

  16. Outstanding read.

    Terrible title.

  17. All were pioneered by men

    Whoa… whoa… take the patriarchy shit down a notch, maybe.

    1. But true though. Which is why the neo marxist race baiters are trying so hard to make it their own. Like all good socialists they only know how to steal from others instead of working hard.

  18. Locke’s Epistemic Revolution
    Michel de Montaigne was a politician and lawyer who had become exhausted by the conflicts of politics and sophistries of law. In the late 1500s, he shut himself in the tower of his family château, where he wrote essays that poked and prodded at received wisdom of all sorts, including the proposition that human beings could ever reliably know anything.

    One wonders who and what might have been influenced by this line of thought.

    1. The wars of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation made Montaigne profoundly pessimistic that any truth could be confidently asserted or any disagreement effectively resolved. In the longest and most influential of his essays, Apology for Raymond Sebond, he wrote that our judgment often leads us astray: “The slightest things in the world whirl it around.” Our senses, he continued, convey only impressions of things, variably and unreliably; for all we know, we might be dreaming or hallucinating. “The uncertainty of our senses,” he wrote, “makes everything they produce uncertain.”

      Just a coincidence.

  19. People, Smith argued, come into the world equipped with what he called sympathy, or fellow-feeling; empathy is the word we might use today. We have a natural inclination to imagine how others see and feel, and to align our own perspectives and dispositions with theirs.

    Smith was right, but now we know better how this works. People come equipped with the ability to feel empathy for other people, and there is no limit to it; it can even extend to other species or fictional characters.

    People also come equipped with an off switch for empathy. Once someone is classified as “them” rather than “us,” the “thems” become un-people, not objects of indifference like a potted plant but competitors in need of murder. Resources are irrelevant. Starving people don’t fight wars or have revolutions (the Kim regime knows this). What matters is tricking the brain into a classification. Complexity is the enemy of survival when you’re under existential threat. So it really is binary. Other people are either on your team or they need to be obliterated. This is not a fact of life, it’s simply how brains evolved to work.

    Like many of our instincts, this does not serve us in the modern technological world. We use the same fear response that’s meant for a snake in the grass and filter complex modern relationships through it, with disastrous results. Whether you’re talking about Nazi Germany or Rwanda or the South, just flip the switch. Kill the enemy tribe and live to regret it later. Our brains are body-protecting machines, first and foremost.

    The good news is that very little is hard-wired. Clearly, skin color can serve as a pristinely obvious tribal marker. You can test the unconscious visceral responses of test participants who react in a racist way to photographs, and that includes people who would describe themselves as enlightened and nonracist.

    But put your favorite team’s baseball cap on the black guy in the photograph, and suddenly that guy becomes a member of your tribe, and the response switches to empathy.

    I believe it is an important insight that trade and peace go hand-in-hand. Even in our evolutionary environment, other tribes were not always enemies. There is evidence of sophisticated trade far sooner than people think. We only trade with people our brains are convinced are on our team.

    So the point isn’t to force you to trade with your enemies. We will start killing our most productive trade partner if FOX News fills our brain with politically useful fear of them. We must hope that the rational incentives of trade can be a mechanism to convince us of the humanity of our trading partners, but make no mistake: we are apes with nukes. It’s not that our brains are malfunctioning when we misdirect animal fear to genocide and such. They are working just fine. They don’t understand what hundreds of millions of people are, or nation-states, or nukes. All they know is Good Ape and Bad Ape.

    So here’s some advice gleaned from centuries of war fought over esoteric differences about the nature of invisible grandpas in the sky, or oppressions based on irrelevant phenotypes, and the surprising ways we can cooperate with people we were once taught were fundamentally a zero-sum threat to us. If you see a human, have empathy. We can evolve to a society that debates whether we must also have empathy for dolphins, chimps, or cows. That would be a very enlightened place to be, if we can just stop killing each other over utterly nonexistent distinctions.

    1. Aren’t you going to disagree with the premise of natural rights, especially property?

      You’ve made it pretty clear in the past that you feel property to be an act of force against those who want to steal it.

      I’d think you’d be admonishing libertarians for believing in a right to property and self ownership. After all, doesn’t everything belong to everyone, and don’t all rights come from government?

      1. Tony sez everything comes from government.

        1. “The government” is the biggest group of thugs with guns.

      2. It grows tiresome explaining to people that things are not true merely because they really want them to be true. Natural rights? Who came up with that one? Some white guy with property? What a co-inkidink!

        1. “I really really believe I should have the shit that billionaires earned.”

          1. Nobody ever earned a billion dollars.

            “Earning” is a story we tell ourselves, and there’s no possible way there could ever be a story about justice, fairness, or practical sense that involves someone *deserving* a billion dollars.

            1. “I really really really believe I should have the shit that billionaires earned.”

            2. “Now, let’s get back to forcing equity on everyone!”

            3. Money is not wealth and wealth is not money.

              So nobody actually has a billion dollars. Perhaps they create a business and have a large stake in it, and then the company is so successful at pleasing people that the value of it grows to billions of dollars. At that point the portion of the company that they own may be worth a billion dollars, but they don’t actually have a billion dollars.

              As far as whether they earned it or not, since you believe property to be theft from those who want to steal it, obviously you feel that billionaires stole their wealth from someone else who wanted to steal it from them.

              1. And if you have a net worth of a billion dollars, even if it’s not in cash, you can borrow against it at low interest rates, never having to see your capital actually spent on anything.

                Our financial laws reflect our values. There is no set of financial laws to be found in nature. We invented every aspect of this. Be careful you’re not naturalizing things that are artificial. It’s an easy trap to fall in to assume a wealthy person “deserved” it all while a poor person probably cheated in some way.

                This is entirely an emotional, aesthetic judgment that has nothing to do with any reality or coherent moral system.

                1. If you’re borrowing against your wealth to pay a tax, more and more, year sfter year, to avoid selling, then you’re just building up the equivalent of an inheritance tax. Might as well do that directly, and avoid the bureaucracy of a wealth tax (unless inefficient busy work is a goal).

                  Yes, we create lots of values. Values like “self-ownership”, “property rights”, “integrity”, “respect”, etc. Those values have served mankind as part of our evolution.

                  Some people have way of being in such a hurry for social change, they throw away values because they seem to get in the way, without understanding how horrible a society they create without them. I can think of a few. France during the revolution, the October revolution, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, etc.

                  Hand-waving it all away as made-up morality is a fools’ game. It’s the kind of thinking you expect from a drunk college kid who’s convinced he already knows how to save the world before he’s actually learned anything.

        2. And it is equally tiresome explaining that natural rights are principles upon which we build a civilized society.

          Your communist principles of “not giving is taking, not taking is giving, property is theft, what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine, might make right…” have been tried, and they always lead to tyranny and misery.

          1. If that’s what you think, no wonder you latch onto such nonsense.

            I don’t subscribe to any “ism.” Here in the grown-up world, we live in a mixed economy that balances basic security with the progress of the market. The only difference between you and me is that I believe in freedom and you believe in an “ism.”

            1. Freedom is not being forced to pay for the stupid choices of others.

              1. I spent 4 years under the presidency of the stupidest man to ever run a casino, let alone a superpower. We all have to live with other people’s choices.

                1. Obama was prez for eight loooooong years.

                2. That really isn’t selling it to me.

            2. You promote asking permission and obeying commands. That is not freedom.

              1. You agree we need laws, yes?

                And if I have this right, the only laws you really support are the ones that involve shooting and caging people?

        3. Natural rights is a concept for peaceful coexistence. They are not a real thing given by nature or Nature’s God. They are natural rights because they are in accord with man’s nature. If we treat each other with respect, and allow each other freedom to live as each sees fit, so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others to do the same, society prospers and conflict is avoided.

          The concept breaks down when greedy socialists want to take what isn’t theirs.

          1. Well said.

            Although according to Tony logic, if socialists don’t take from the rich to give to the poor, then the socialists are taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

            Also, work hard to produce something and declare it to be your property, you are initiating force on those who want to steal it.

            It seems like his foundational principle is that not-stealing is stealing. So if you oppose theft then you’re a nasty thief, but if you support thievery then you’re a good person.

            1. And your foundational principle is that the wealthy all deserve their wealth and the poor are probably to be suspected of cheating.

              I’m sure you could muster a hypothetical case where a rich person was undeserving of their wealth, but you haven’t bothered with that yet. I suppose if you catch them flagrantly stealing it, that would count, though more subtle means of unjust acquisition undoubtedly escape your notice, because you are tuned to defend wealth wherever you find it. That is the primary motivation of your worldview, not that you’re aware of that.

              I don’t even care about “deserving.” I suppose it’s a variable in the equation, but human moral judgments are extremely prone to irrationality. We largely want to give benefits to people we consider our allies and harm those we consider our enemy. You can rationalize anything. That’s what brains do.

              If the system is set up such that even as worker productivity goes up, the only wealth gains go to the CEOs, you are not equipped to even articulate this as a problem. So I don’t know where you get off throwing moral premises around.

          2. You don’t know what “man’s nature” is, and neither does anyone else. It is the subject of much of literature and much ongoing scientific inquiry.

            There is not a single self-identified libertarian I’ve ever talked to whose worldview even comes close to resembling Smith’s or Locke’s or Hayek’s. Every single one of these people ASSUMED some level of moral responsibility to other humans living in society.

            Don’t come to me with Ayn Randian dreck that tells you the moral life is being the most cunty person imaginable. It sounded too good to be true because it so obviously is.

            1. Rand said to trade value for value. That’s cooperation. Maybe you need to read AND UNDERSTAND Rand.

        4. GFY

        5. “It grows tiresome explaining to people that things are not true merely because they really want them to be true.”

          Shitstain here flatters himself, assuming his abysmal stupidity allows him to explain much of anything at all to those older than 5 or so.

    2. Republicans don’t hate anyone the way democrats hate republicans.

      1. They are fed a 24/7 stream of hate speech. I watch it sometimes.

    3. You mean like the girl shot in the face? Or the political prisoners held in solitary for trespassing? Or the cop convicted of murdering a bandit who overdosed?

      1. You say trespassing, I say coup attempt. They’re lucky they live in 2021 when humans have evolved so far into a state of mercy that we actually let direct violent threats to the survival of the country live and go to trial at all.

        1. It was about as violent as a frat party, and about as organized.

          Antifa in Portland, on the other hand, is a coup de city. BLM is racist gang warfare.

    4. “People also come equipped with an off switch for empathy. Once someone is classified as “them” rather than “us,” the “thems” become un-people, not objects of indifference like a potted plant but competitors in need of murder.”

      Probably the first step towards not un-people others and justifying their murder is to avoid labeling large swathes of your fellow countrymen racist sexist fascist Nazis just for disagreeing with you politically on the most controversial subjects facing society today.

      1. I see them as victims, actually, though my progressive empathy can only extend so far to people who are trying to kill me and my society purely out of stupidity.

        1. And you make my point for me.

    5. Tony
      July.7.2021 at 1:57 pm

      It would be a mistake to take my posts too seriously, as I have no deeply held beliefs.

  20. I almost think we need another Amendment to defend the people’s right to believe even that which is demonstrably false.
    The Flat Earth Society is a prime example. Should a future ‘Ministry of Truth’ shut down websites devoted to this nonsense?

    1. We do. It’s called freedom of religion.

      1. Religion claims to explain the universe but can’t provide falsifiable evidence. Let’s not let that happen to science.

          1. I know.

            1. There are plenty of voices critical of strong theory.

              1. “There are plenty of voices critical of strong theory.”

                This from a shitstain who claims some knowledge of science.

      2. How is the existence of God demonstrably false? What is your proof that God doesn’t exist?

        1. What is your proof that your god exists and not the Muslim one?

  21. “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    This is known as “bad luck.”

    – Robert Heinlein

    1. Good thing we have right-thinking people like Tony to set us straight.

      1. You actually believe that any income tax is equivalent to totally stifling everyone’s ability to create.

        You couldn’t be a more useful cog than if you had been stamped in a cog machine.

        1. Lefty hero Thoreau said it best:

          “All machines have their friction; and possibly this does enough good to counterbalance the evil. At any rate, it is a great evil to make a stir about it. But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer. “

        2. You don’t know what I believe.

  22. The problem of organizing a state, however hard it may seem, can be solved even for a nation of devils, if only they are rational. The problem is: “Given a multitude of rational beings requiring universal laws for their preservation, but each of whom is secretly inclined to exempt himself from them, to establish a constitution in such a way that, although their private intentions conflict, they check each other, with the result that their public conduct is the same as if they had no such intentions.” – Immanuel Kant

  23. An excellent, if lengthy, piece.

    I read a science fiction book once which contained the most amazing, if obvious, truth in a single sentence which seems to describe humans perfectly. Roughly paraphrased (it’s been decades, and I don’t recall the title or author), It said, “There are only two things in the universe which cannot be logically refuted – objective truth and utter BS.”

    Today we are seeing the ascendancy of utter BS over objective truth, and it is destroying us.

  24. Whenever people stop making an effort to use logic and science, they end up with religion.
    Some religions are good, and some are poisonous. Cults of personality like those for Kim Jong-Un and Trump are both poisonous, even if Trump is not as bad as his buddy Kim. Over-zealous wokeness is poisonous because it’s turning neighbor against neighbor and furthering social breakdown. Q-Anon is also a poisonous religion because it celebrates mental illness. Most mainstream religions have a bit of poison in them, along with some socially useful altruism.

    An over-dependence on logic can lead to utilitarianism, which is poisonous because it’s application is usually short-sighted. A short-sighted utilitarian or Social-Darwinist might say “let the Anti-Vaxxers die” because we don’t need that stupidity in the gene pool. However, in the long term, doing that will just lead to more virus mutations. Altruism is baked into our evolution for a reason. It is more necessary for human survival than feudal clannishness or Social Darwinism.

    1. “Cults of personality like those for Kim Jong-Un and Trump are both poisonous”

      Lol, yeah. It was Trump and totally not the Lightbringer, or Cuomo, or AOC who had the cult of personality.

      Even the biggest MAGA fan on earth will freely admit that Trump’s a self-absorbed asshole. Try finding an Obamaite or AOC acolyte that would say the same.

      People supported Trump because they finally found a dink who would push back against the Davos crowd. You know, the guys who are fucking over Western civilization as hard as they can.
      Not because he has magical leg-tingle powers like Barack.

      1. “ People supported Trump because they finally found a dink who would push back against the Davos crowd. You know, the guys who are fucking over Western civilization as hard as they can.
        Not because he has magical leg-tingle powers like Barack.”

        Thank for saying this.

      2. I hate to be a snob, but one of the clearest demographic clues to whether a person is a Trump supporters is that they haven’t gone to college.

        It’s possible that they have a simplistic conspiracy theory about the world (complete with secret Jew meetings) and have latched onto the nearest famous person willing to feed them all their own premises back to them shamelessly.

        Or they could be the real geniuses of the species. Who can say?

    2. “Whenever people stop making an effort to use logic and science, they end up with religion.”

      The guy who doesn’t believe there’s any evidence the holocaust happened already said that, dude.

      1. “Whenever people stop making an effort to use logic and science, they end up with religion.”

        Where in the fuck do these people think that science came from? Unbelievable.

    3. “Whenever people stop making an effort to use logic and science, they end up with religion.

      A statement so simultaneously pejorative and lazy it simply must be your religion.

    4. “socially useful altruism” I’m not a toll for you to use. Bug off.

      1. T O O L

    5. If we say X is the answer to everything and all other arguments should be silenced it’s bad, whether X is logic, science, religion, etc.

    6. All mutually exclusive contradicting beliefs can’t be reality, truth.

      If religions simply drew the truth line at leaving the undemonstatable to “faith” there would be no inter religion conflict.

      This is where the insecurity of religious leaders has failed us all, by falsely claiming belief without irrefutable evidence to be truth.

      1. We call it unscientific when scientists do it and criminal lies when politicians do it to congress. Why do we let religions do it?

  25. really good thanks for the info on this topic

  26. This drivel is why journalists shouldn’t pretend to be scientists.

    1. Science is the only valid epistemology?

  27. “Epistemic rights, like political rights, belong to all of us; empiricism is the duty of all of us. No exceptions for priests, princes, or partisans.”

    That is not remotely true – consider the High Priests of Transgenderism, to give but one example. Oh, to be sure, they may call themselves doctors, and have conferred upon each other the degrees to match, and yes they call what they do “science” but almost exclusively among themselves. So much so that they will blindly charge into settings where data is most obviously lacking – e.g. juveniles.

    The degree of epistemic closure on display coupled with the overt suppression of any considerations they do not deem worthy would seem to indicate that they are enforcers of orthodoxy much more than unbiased seekers of trvth.

    1. Most people don’t have a good working knowledge of the process of gender transition, but I support your hobby.

      Could you give me a thumbnail sketch of what happens when a child claims to be trans and visits a doctor for the first time?

      1. “Could you give me a thumbnail sketch of what happens when a child claims to be trans and visits a doctor for the first time?”

        The only consistency is that, since there is no standard of practice, there is no consistency.

        Of course that does not stop agenda driven people from advocating what should happen, even though they have little to no evidence to support their recommendations.

        Which is fine, they just should not try to pretend that what they are doing is science. And they certainly should not seek to suppress or otherwise restrict those who attempt or encourage scrutiny of their methods and outcomes.

  28. It should be part of everyone’s education to have some cursory knowledge of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems, and Tarski’s Undefinability Theorem. Roughly speaking, these results indicate that if you begin with certain axioms, or assumptions, then develop a logical system, you cannot always determine the truth or falsehood of some statements.

    If a child says he is trans, and you take him to the doctor, the physician my be unable to determine the truth or falsehood of the child’s claim through any logical system of scientific testing that we currently have.

    1. Nor, if the doctor could do that, does that tell the doctor what he should do with that information.

      They are two distinct questions. Neither of which currently have a reliable, much less definitive answer.

    2. Sometimes the truthful answer is “I don’t know”.

  29. Who Gets To Decide the Truth?
    ME!

    1. You mean ‘Me’ can think for itself???? That just throws a huge wrench into the Nazi Plan….

      +1000000; A perfectly simple and pure truthful comment.

      1. Everyone can and should think for themself. That is what the government hates. They lose power and control if you think for yourself. What they love is woke cattle that just follow the herd.

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